Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston Bombings

By now, the Boston Marathon bombings have been analyzed every which way, yet leaving many questions unanswered until the younger brother recovers enough to tell his story to the authorities, unless a book publisher gets to him first. I was surprised that the authorities let him live, usually in a situation where a police officer has been shot and killed, the suspect is over-killed by a SWAT team in retaliation. Now, thanks to the GOP, they want to treat him like an enemy combatant and try him at a military court, probably send him to Guantanamo for several years, to be held without charges or representation... Thankfully, the White House earlier today announced that he would not be held as an enemy combatant, no matter what John McCain or Lindsay Graham says... Yahoo news reports: "Terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged on Monday with two counts of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, injure and cause widespread damage at the Boston Marathon a week ago.

 If convicted, the 19-year-old could face the death penalty. Three people were killed and more than 200 others wounded when two powerful homemade bombs exploded near the race’s finish line.

 Tsarnaev made his initial appearance before a magistrate judge in his hospital bed at the heavily guarded Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he remains in serious condition. According to a federal official, Tsarnaev is sedated and unable to speak..."

Reading about the two brothers and their lives, it becomes clear that any identification with militant Islam had little basis in reality, that it became a romanticized fantasy. My own view of the world is based mostly on what I read in the NY Times and Washington Post, which also is mostly fantasies... The weird part is that Chechnya has a quarrel with Russia, which has killed over 200,000 Chechens over the last 20 years. The few Chechens living in the US see it as a safe harbor, where they can live peacefully, away from the violence of their homeland. Investigations taking place in Russia all depend on how paranoid and vindictive Vladimir Putin has become, or if he's off performing weird shirtless photo opps for his mistresses...

 I don't want to take anything away from the horror and tragedy of the bombings, but on the same Monday afternoon the NY Times reported that 20 home-made bombs went off in Bagdad, Iraq, killing several people and injuring over 300. They didn't have the resources to investigate them all, nor did the story make the evening news in any country outside of the Middle East. It's such a sad commentary how quickly improvised devices and suicide bombs have become commonplace, when a few years ago they were much more rare. Now that jihadists ignore the passages in the Koran against taking the life of another Muslim, it's predicted that this kind of terrorism will happen a lot more in Europe and the US. So far, South America has avoided this kind of violence, content to let their police and military kidnap and torture their citizens, until they piss off Iran or Saudi Arabia sometime soon...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cairo's Rude Boys, Don't Cry For Me, Karachi...

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” - Eric Hoffer
"I think I finally figured out where Sarah Palin came from. Someone cast a spell on a YouTube comment and it came to life." – Jon Stewart
"A recent poll found that 58% of Americans now think it should be legal for gays and lesbians to get married. And the other 42% object only because they don't want to go to another goddamn wedding." – Stephen Colbert

I'm not a Catholic, so watching the process of choosing a pope was interesting, like watching some old, irrelevant historical play. They replaced an 81 year old man, who felt that he was getting too old to do the job, his life wasn't all solid gold bathroom fixtures and thinking classic Aryan thoughts; and so, the bishops replaced him with a younger, more vibrant, 76 year old... The idea of having someone as the ultimate religious authority, acting as the voice of God, is creepy and is the pinnacle of narcissism. At least we don't have any Protestant popes, can you believe having to follow the decrees of some itinerant televangelist? Maybe it's no mistake that the only other thing that Rome is famous for is a bunch of architectural ruins...

Now, I know you're going to tell me that at least in Islam there are several voices of God, witness the Grand Ayatollah, and
leaders of several mosques, renowned for their piety. But all too often, these men make public statements that are embarrassing, and promote the ideas that their part of the world is stuck in the thirteenth century, and not going to update any time soon. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is protecting the practice of gang-raping women in Tahrir Square, something that young men have been doing for hundreds of years. The number of gang rapes and abuse has been escalating, and described by the police in terms like: "Sometimes, a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions." Yeah, close your eyes and you could almost believe that kind of bullshit coming from some US Army General trying to explain why one in every five women in the US armed forces have been raped...

The difference is that women are now reporting these acts and are becoming public. Instead of taking responsibility, men are pointing fingers in every other direction but themselves, as reported by Mayy El Sheikh in the NY Times. Some condemn the women for speaking out at all, as Sheik Abu Islam, an Islamic televangelist said: "You see these women speaking like ogres, without shame, politeness, fear or even femininity..."  Such a woman, he said, is "like a demon." and wondered why anyone should sympathize with those naked women who went their to get raped... He sounds like Cairo's answer to Rush Limbaugh. I use this story as proof that super-conservative people from every culture are all crazy...

With the recent protests in India and Pakistan over rape and violence on women, 2013 may prove to be a boon for victimized women worldwide. I can be hopeful, but I'm not holding my breath...

"I have put my life in danger, but I want to save Pakistan." 
There used to be a place on the southern coast of France that used to be known as Dictator's Row, it was where Baby Doc Duvalier moved to when he fled from Haiti. and several deposed heads of African states were his neighbors. But Baby Doc has since gone back to Haiti, for better or worse, and now countries like Dubai have become the destination of choice, at least by Afghan and Iraqi oligarchs who got rich from US Aid money...

From the land of towering penthouse apartments and no questions asked, comes the new savior of Pakistan, the ex-military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, back from a four year exile. This was supposed to be a jubilant, victorious arrival, with thousands cheering, maybe millions throughout the country welcoming him back in time to begin campaigning for the next presidential election, which he would win by a landslide.

Unfortunately, four years can be an awfully long time to be absent from the public's eye. Instead of the huge crowds, less than three hundred people showed up, but, hey, they were an enthusiastic three hundred... In typical PR flack, Musharraf's people claimed that the reason the welcome back rally had to be postponed was because the city of Karachi was over-run with newly minted Taliban. To prove how true this was, the NY Times ran a follow up story the next day, so now we must know it's true. It's good to know that the Times will shill for others than the US government...

Perhaps Mr Musharraf has learned something from this humiliation now that Pakistan no longer wants him to save it? Maybe he will settle down and open a 7-11 franchise, dispensing wisdom and homilies while selling newspapers and whatever the local version of coca cola is? To put it in the words of Pervez Musharraf himself: "Where is the Pakistan that I had left years ago?"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our Bizarro Scientology Universe

"Since the brutal presidential election, there's been a lot of soul searching going on at Fox News. I am confident that they eventually will find one." – Stephen Colbert
"People sometimes forget that George Washington was very rich, had a pony tail, and grew hemp on his farm. He was America's original Willie Nelson." – Craig Ferguson
"In November, Colorado voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Currently, only Colorado residents can purchase marijuana in the state. But they may open it up to nonresidents too. The new state slogan is 'Come for the legal marijuana, stay because you forgot to leave.'" – Jimmy Kimmel

This has been a rough winter for me. Perhaps it's just part of the aging process, but I've been dealing with serious urges to commit suicide, and the depression that triggers those feelings. Every time it snows I want to walk out into the middle of the blizzard and lay down to sleep... On the learning end of the curve, I've gotten to recognize the difference between what mental affects depression brings versus the oncoming fog of dementia, and the amount of relief from daily medication. I've spent the last 3-4 weeks as a couch potato watching increasingly weird reality shows on television, glorifying everyone from dumbass rednecks to shrill and angry ex-housewives. On the bright side, I've solved most of the world's political problems through the fantasies in my daydreams, something my cat can attest to...

One of the epiphanies I had was the realization that the church of Scientology has won its war with the government. It already had won the previous war with psychiatry; nobody goes to see a psychiatrist for therapy or insight anymore, all anyone receives these days is a drug prescription and an inflated bill to their insurance company. Thirty years ago Scientology also began planting its believers into government jobs here in America and in Europe, doing a better job at infiltrating than the Soviets ever did... Now we have entrenched bureaucrats making policies the L Ron Hubbard way...

My reasoning goes like this: followers of Scientology believe in some pretty far out stuff because its founder was a bad science fiction writer. Instead of producing people with the gifts of mental clarity, we end up with citizens who are cowed by arrogance and authority, who are used to bizarre behavior and arguments that come from way out there in right field... Scientologists have infiltrated the GOP, which explains the blind acceptance of crazy ideas, crazy candidates, and inability to change or move forward, all traits of someone under mind control. Karl Rove must be a Scientologist, how else can you explain the ease that he gets rich conservatives to donate millions of dollars to whatever lost cause he is promoting? The only other plausible explanation for the sclerotic behavior patterns of Republicans is that several years ago our universe intersected with the Bizarro Universe, and we've been flying around backwards ever since... which explains the irrational denying of climate change and other messages being sent to us from Mother Earth, the insistence of adhering to outdated economic models that have already proven to Not Work, inherent racism, and willingness to punch you in the face if you disagree with them...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prayer For Hillary, Rape

I've been climbing out of sickness and depression last month, forcing myself to the post editor because I want to say a prayer for Hillary Clinton, may she heal and take a couple of years off to lay around the house and read some books... We are going to need Hillary during the next few years, not only because the presidency will be hers if she wants it, but because we need her for inspiration to get more women involved in politics and creating governmental policy... Of course, her enemies used her hospitalization as an excuse to dump one her, saying she was avoiding appearing before Congress to answer questions about the tragedy in Bengazi, Libya. They wouldn't listen to reason, and it reminded me of a Frank Zappa album cover, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, with Charles Krauthammer as the main weasel... hopefully, the State Dept will streamline their security, more responsive to requests for extra security than the typical beauracratic response of "No."

This kind of automatic denial is created by lawyers. It doesn't matter if the request will save lives or not, if it causes us to spend money, the answer is no... I remember my first experience with this attitude, when the transit district that I was working for hired a lawyer. Maybe she thought we wanted her to take over running the district, but she was making work rules without going through the committee process, and was a mean and vindictive person towards workers she deemed beneath her in the hierarchy of the company. Yes, myself included. Each month there was a list of items in the board packet that the public would ask the district to recompense them for property damaged while riding the bus. Every item was automatically denied by our lawyer. One item just bothered me, a young man who used the bus to attend special needs education classes, was thrown forward into the seat in front of him when the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid an accident. He was requesting $35 to replace his glasses frame, which he had to tape together with masking tape. I felt that granting the request would have created more goodwill, but it was denied. I wrote a critical article in our Union newsletter and was accused by her of sexual harassment in the workplace. So, I have witnessed what can happen when this mindset goes crazily out of control, though in our State Department's case, it resulted in the deaths of good men who were actually helping Libya...

It bothers me that sick conservatives are using Hillary's hospitalization for petty politics. She may never be greeted as a Nubian Princess with a butt you could bounce quarters off of, as Khadafi used to refer to Condoleeza Rice, but she has visited over 112 countries during her tenure, and probably has had more influence on world events than any other politician, helped deflated some rather hairy incidents that easily have escalated into another world war. She's killing herself for this country, and the response is juvenile sarcasm sprinkled with cynical frosting.he blood clot is still there, and they gave her blood thinners to dissolve it. It may or may not work, so she will be closely monitored for the next 6 months. The problem with drugs like this is you are taking them for the rest of your life. My father had to use blood thinners after his stroke, but they also aggravated a hiatal hernia that he had for years. So, he got to balance the risk of forming a blood clot that could affect the blood flow to his brain versus having some blood and fluids gathering in his lung area... Good luck Hillary, I pray you make good choices, this world still needs you.

Life could be worse, if you are a woman living in a Muslim country. Or any other patriarchic, misogynistic culture. Reported rape is on the rise throughout the world, from the campus of the Air Force Academy to the  over 600 rape cases in Delhi, India reported from 2012... According to Sonia Faleiro, writing in the NY Times, it is a culture that "believes that the worst aspect of rape is the defilement of the victim, who will no longer be able to find a man to marry her - and that the solution is to marry the rapist..." Because rape is so prevalent in India, the recent death of a young woman who was raped and beaten so bad that she died from organ failure prompted mass demonstrations by women all over the country.

The number of rapes that result in pregnancy is over 50%, I've read that here in the US it's 80%, but that seems scarily high to me. It's estimated that one in every five women will have been abused during their lifetime, and in places like Pakistan, India, and the Middle East, the incident rate is even higher and more horrific.

Of course, educating males is one option for solving the rape problem, but that doesn't address cultures that condone it, or male rage on a personal level. One of our institutions that has the highest amount of reported rapes are the military academies. We teach our young men to be aggressive and kill, yet we do not teach them how to flip the switch and turn that behavior off, mix it with 18 year old raging hormones, and the old men of the administration are shocked by the resulting behavior, and are left to cover it up for as long as they can, leaving many fine women with destroyed careers because they said yes, I'll go out with you... Personally, I have never understood how one person could rape another, and I've faced plenty of rejection in my life. The behavior seems left over from the time we were cavemen, though even back then it doesn't seem to much value, nothing to do with food, clothing, and shelter...

Friday, November 9, 2012

GOP's Problems, David Betrayus

"Mitt Romney was very gracious in his remarks in his concession speech. Shortly after Mitt Romney conceded, Paul Ryan was untied and set free." –David Letterman
"Congratulations to President Obama on being reelected president of the United States. Turns out it is not all bad news for the Republicans. It seems that depression is covered by Obamacare." – Jay Leno 
"Exit polls show that President Obama did well with women, beating Romney by 11 binders." – Jay Leno 
"Some more good news – the president announced today he is not going to raise taxes on the entire 1 percent, just Donald Trump." – Jay Leno
"I really think in all of what happened yesterday, the only person who should be considered a 'loser' is Donald Trump. I'll tell you why. He went on Twitter demanding a revolution. So far no one's listened to him — because he's Donald Trump! After that, Trump tweeted, 'The world is laughing at us.' I'm thinking, No, Donald. The world is laughing at you and this is why. It is because you're wearing an orange face and a crazy wig. This is the uniform the world over of a clown! Nobody laughs WITH the clown. They laugh AT the clown. Then when the clown gets angry, it is funnier." – Craig Ferguson

Now that the election is over, the time to point the blame for the GOP's failure begins. Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal, pointing the finger in every direction but himself. Depending on how connected to organized crime Sheldon Adelson is, Karl may soon disappear from this earth some dark and gloomy night... When I saw Karl having his hissy fit on Fox Tuesday night, I first thought it was some kind of guerilla theater, especially when Megyn Kelly mentioned that they had rehearsed her walk to the back of the studio to the decision desk... I hope that Fox replaces brain-dead hosts like Steve Doocy and Sean Hannity with more classy and intelligent women like Megyn, after all, how much longer can she dumb it down every night?

It seems there are hundreds of reasons why the Republicans lost, the best ones come from letters to the editor, in this case these came from the NY Times:

"Perhaps their underlying problem is arrogance. Perhaps the problem is scorn for the common plight. Perhaps the problem is  the morality or nostalgic thinking trapped in a thankfully bygone era... But I think that the most likely reason of all is simply that the Republican heart has grown two sizes too small."

"... They are not talking about examining the core principles that turned off many voters... If they continue to be more interested in getting votes than in getting at the issues that are important to the changing face of America, they will continue to lose. And they will slide further towards irrelevance."

Unfortunately, among the crazy conservatives who want to drag the rest of us into the depths of their depressions, we get emails like this: "The bottom line is the revolution is nearing completion. We have lost our privacy, soon we will loose our right to self defense, and then The Bill of Rights will be no more. This is no longer the Republic we older people once knew. Re-electing this man is unforgivable. All of our descendants will curse us for betraying and mismanaging this beautiful idea that was once America. We have sentenced them to a life without personal rights, class mobility, or the joy of being truly free. Get ready for the era of Executive Orders, a european socialist form of government. We are now a nation of 350,000,000 dead men walking. Including the people who consider themselves liberal. What a joke on them."... I'm sorry you feel so negative about the election results my fellow old fart; I wonder where you got your doom and gloom philosophy... Maybe it would be better for all of us if you just went ahead and committed suicide... I may be grumpy, but I'm not a self-deluded idiot...

Err, forgive me, too much caffeine. But, by far my favorite letter is from Michael Lazare from Boise, Idaho: "I'm an old white guy (80). I've voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since Adlai Stephenson. My age allows me to be crotchety, so to all you newspapers, networks, pundits and pollsters, just one request: Stop categorizing me. I don't like it."

What impressed me the most about this election was the larger portion of citizens interested in policies, foreign policy, and economics, educating themselves so that all those years spent in college paid off... A smarter, more engaged electorate forced the news media to be more challenging to the candidates and the spin both campaigns gave to events. Hopefully, this trend will continue, but I do think that the energy we put into our national debate will not be as intense if Hillary decides to run.

The hot news today is the resignation of the Army's golden boy, David Petraeus. I had been wondering what he had been up to because he'd be keeping a low public profile once he became director of the CIA. That didn't stop Leon Panetta from making regular press releases when he was director, but David didn't speak out when Iran shot down a drone, or his listening post in Benghazi was attacked this last 9/11. Turns out he was too busy horn-dogging around, having an affair with the woman who was his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

Coincidentally, the FBI is investigating if Ms Broadwell could have had access to any private emails or military intelligence since David became the top spook, which may have defined the timing of his resignation, before the situation got ugly. Kiss your marriage of 37 years good-by champ...

What bothers me, and makes me want to call Mr Petraeus a coward, is the fact that the affair had been going on for several years, and it was called off only after it had been discovered by the FBI. If this hadn't happened, they could have continued the affair indefinitely.  It's always activites like these that reminds us that we are led by flawed human beings, so different from the people we put on their golden pedestals... Usually, the CIA takes care of their own investigations. The FBI would have to be invited to investigate within the CIA, so it looks like someone didn't get along with the head honcho very well... Revenge can be a bitch, sometimes...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Is Elected, And It Wasn't Even Close...

"Mitt Romney is reminding everybody about changing your clocks. He's urging his voters, his constituents, and all Americans to turn your clocks back to 1954." – David Letterman
"Good news for the Republicans: Once the polls close on Tuesday, they’ll be able to bring out Paul Ryan again. He’s been hiding with Mitt Romney's tax returns." – David Letterman
"What happened is Romney had a rally where they bought $5,000 worth of canned goods from Wal-Mart, handed them out to their supporters, and then had their supporters pretend to be giving them to the victims for the cameras. Because that's what Mitt is all about -- people. People pretending to help people. Later on he gave blood, then stole it back and chugged it." – Bill Maher

The presidential election went just about how the statistics guys predicted, and Barack Obama won both the number of voters and the electoral college to win another four years. The only people in denial was Karl Rove on Fox News, who threw a hissy fit on camera, and the other newsreaders tried to accommodate him. He thought that it was premature to declare Ohio for Obama when there were some precincts that were historically voting Republican that had yet to report in.

Then, Fox News did something that resembled guerilla theater rather than a serious news program. They sent Megyn Kelly, with a camera following her, back through the studio to ask the "election desk" why they had decided against Mr Rove, who has spent over $300 million in super-pac money in commercials against Obama. ThinkProgress wrote: "With neither side backing down, senior producers had to find a way to split the difference. One idea was for two members of the decision team, Mishkin and Fox’s digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt, to go on camera with Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier to squelch the doubts over the call. But then it was decided that Kelly would walk through the office and interview the decision team in the conference room. “This is Fox News,” an insider said, “so anytime there’s a chance to show off Megyn Kelly’s legs they’ll go for it.” The decision desk were given a three-minute warning that Kelly would be showing up..." The Fox statistics guys basically said that Rove was blowing smoke out of his ass, said that the amount of votes outstanding was 140,000 in the Republican areas, and 750,000 outstanding from the Democratic areas, and there was no way that Romney would win in Ohio. The cameras cut back to Karl Rove, who stupidly repeated his argument and continued his red-faced fit. He also called the Romney campaign, causing a delay of two hours before they admitted defeat... Luckily for Fox, they went to commercials, and when they came back, Mr Rove had been removed from the spotlight...

Conservative pundits had all predicted a Romney landslide, despite all of the math against them. Peggy Noonan, Dick Morris, and Karl Rove all were living in their own la-la land, and Donald Trump, who is in the angry first stages of Alzheimer'ss, called for a revolution... It won't be much longer until he loses his television show, which helped feed his autocratic ego... Those same pundits are now calling for Obama to move further to the right, or as they call it, towards the middle, so that there can be bi-partisan solutions to our problems. As Lee Siegal in the NY Times put it: "It was startling to hear, on CNN, the assembled pundits almost unanimously agree that President Obama had to find the “middle ground,” move to “the center” and “build relationships” with Republicans. Where have they been for four years? Mr. Obama had been trying desperately to find the political center for his entire first term, only to be stymied by Republicans trying to recapture the White House by rejecting his every attempt at compromise and then blaming him for being unwilling to compromise."

Nine out of the ten swing states all went for Obama, and Mitt Romney's home state of Massachusetts went for Obama... Even the county where Paul Ryan makes his home in Janeville, Wisconsin, voted for Obama... The factors that went overwhelmingly for Obama were the Black vote, the Latino vote, young people under 30, and the female vote. Nationally, more women voted than men, resulting with a whole binder full of women elected to Congress. 20 were elected last night, including Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth, both whom I'm in awe of... The high turnout from these new strongholds will change the face of our future elections. For example, adios to Tod Aiken, Allen West, Joe Walsh, and Richard Mourdock, all tea party idealogues...

Here in my home state of Colorado, Obama won, twice in a row. His winning in 2008 caused the pundits to list Colorado as a swing state. One of our best kept secrets, now out in the open, is that even Conservatives enjoy getting stoned. Marijuana is a wonderful drug to ingest while spending time outdoors in the Rocky Mountains. Now, we even put it on the ballot, making it legal for anyone over 21 to buy a personal amount of marijuana, and it passed last night. In fact, marijuana got 50,000 more votes than Obama did... My brother-in-law and I were laughing at this, and I asked him if he would now try and buy some. He replied that no, he stopped smoking it years ago, but it's nice to know that the opportunity is there... I discovered that sometimes smoking a joint before going to sleep, it helped me on days that were very painful. I stopped when I moved to Colorado, never signed up for medical marijuana, and wouldn't know where to get it even though that may soon change. But my doctor has prescribed tramadol for the pain, and it works pretty well, so I doubt that I'll be searching out where my local distributor is located... When I was younger, I swore that I'd never let myself end up taking pills as I got older, yet here I am taking a small handful twice per day. Getting old sure sucks... Just like my religious and political beliefs, I may not be partaking in this social experiment, but I don't mind if others do... God Bless a Stoned America...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nov 6th, 2012

As of Tuesday morning, Nate Silver, from the NY Times, makes the prediction that Barack Obama's chances of being re-elected are at 90.9%, making Mit's chances of winning at 9.1%. That's a larger margin than I would have given, but he is a lot smarter than I am, so I'll go with his numbers...

Unfortunately for the GOP, after their defeat a whole bunch of ugly old white guys will be saying that the problem is that they haven't found a candidate who is properly Conservative enough... But the primary candidates this season were all extremely right wing, and they made the race to the primary look like a carnival run by the clowns... And now the Dick Morris's, Joe Scarborough's, Bill Kristol's, and Sean Hannity's all look like they shared in taking some of Rush Limbaugh's Oxycontin... That leaves Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin as the standard bearers, to chew at each other like weasels during the next 4 years...

Mitt Romney
Barack Obama
-14.0 since Oct. 30
+14.0 since Oct. 30
270 to win
-13.5 since Oct. 30
+13.5 since Oct. 30